Editor's Note: Brian D. McLaren is author of "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World" (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group).
By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN
I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.
At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.
Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.
For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents." Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”
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Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.
Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned. John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.
Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.
In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.
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Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.
The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.
I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.
It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.
Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.
Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?
If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.
No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.
The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.
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Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.
To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”
The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian D. McLaren.
How ridiculous this appears from an atheist point of view - from all three sides. First, the people who made this film are idiots; second, the muslims who attacked people are criminal idiots; third, the writer of this article is defending these criminal idiots by blaming the other idiots who enjoyed this film.
"Amen", Bill! Isn't is nice as an atheist (I am one) that someone tells us we are going to hell and I can go about my day completely unoffended.
With no belief to defend, I am free to live and relate.
Only for the new members:
Putting the kibosh/”google” on religion to include Mormonism:
• There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Added details available upon written request.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.
Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
ضع kibosh / "جوجل" على أساس الدين لتشمل المورمونية:
• ربما لم يكن هناك أي أسس إبراهيم اليهودية والمسيحية والإسلام هي غير موجودة.
• ربما لم يكن هناك أي موسى دعائم اليهودية والمسيحية والإسلام ليس لديهم قوة العزيمة.
• • مشكله في بلاي
ظرف: بالتأكيد تقريبا، بقدر ما أحد يعرف أو يمكن أن أقول.
• لم يكن هناك أي فشل غابرييل الإسلام كدين. فشل المسيحية جزئيا.
• كان هناك أي فشل أي عيد الفصح المسيحية كدين تماما.
• لم يكن هناك أي موروني المورمونية هو ليس أكثر من عبادة الأعمال.
• المقدسة / التبجيل الأبقار، الآلهة القرد والطوائف، وبالتالي التناسخ الهندوسية كدين فشل.
• الدهون بوذا هنا، جسد جديد نحيل تماثيل بوذا هناك، في كل مكان يجعل بوذا للا على البوذية.
وأضاف التفاصيل المتاحة بناء على طلب خطي.
بحث سريع وضع kibosh على أي مجموعة أخرى تطلق على نفسها دين.
على سبيل المثال الطاوية
"أصول الطاوية غير واضحة. تقليديا، يعتبر لاو تزو، الذي عاش في القرن السادس ومؤسسها. الأسس الفلسفية لها في وقت مبكر والمعتقدات والطقوس في وقت لاحق طريقتان مختلفتان تماما من الحياة. اليوم (1982) الطاوية يدعي 31286000 أتباع.
تقول الاسطورة ان تصرف بطريقة صحيحة ولدت لاو تزو بواسطة نجم اطلاق النار، وقاموا في بطن أمه ل82 سنة، وولد
Just so, old boy, just so!
Islamophobia has been brought about by muslim behavior. Not complicated.
"Shoebat...along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned" – you are really being too kind. This guy has been proven repeatedly to be a bona fide fraud.
Too bad they've gone on this love-to-fear rampage. Muslims are very ideologically aligned with conservative evangelical values and up until 2004 even voted that way.
Very well said, Mr. McLaren. I have a little more hope in humanity again.
still lives in the 16th Century and would drag the rest of the world back there if it could ... Islam stopped learning after the death of Suleiman and rapidly began its intellectual decline ... oil is now the only thing that makes the religion even remotely relevant ...
but at least Islam has a rational basis, unlike the Immaculate Conception. Still, it's followers are a bit backward thinking ...
I'm hearing muslims in both western and middle eastern cultures demanding that statements which are offensive to religion be outlawed.
As someone who is pretty much atheist I wonder how many of these people- how many Christians, for that matter- would consider my very existence as an atheist to be an 'insult' and an 'offense' to their religion? This is precisely why freedom of speech, however hateful and disgusting, should be preserved to the utmost. People should have the right to tell me I'm going to hell, and I should be free to tell them there is no hell and no god. What should be illegal is killing people because they don't believe what you do, or rioting because someone drew a picture of your prophet, or wrote a book that hurt your feelings.
I believe that most muslims are good people who denounce the violence that defines the worldwide image of their culture, but I also believe that the Islamic cultures have a serious social problem. The minority fundamentalists control their entire society with the threat of violence and retribution and have instilled so much fear as to render the masses complicit. This is not going to be resolved by western force or diplomacy, rather the culture is going to have to change from within. Unfortunately that may result in a lot more bloodshed before a more peaceful culture emerges, if that is even possible.
A number of folks on here are pointing out that the fundamentals of Islam are violent and therefore the religion is the problem, not the culture. Yet the same can be said of the Christian religion and it's all right there in the bible- the difference is, for some reason the western cultures selectively chose to start ignoring and suppressing the more violent parts of the bible over time. Those passages are still there but Christians don't, for example, kill their neighbor for working on the sabbath. Delusion and selective belief were possible in the Christian culture and it tamed the violence of it down, at least relative to the 14th century version. The Islamic cultures of the middle east could do the same but it might take a few hundred more years.
... I believe that most muslims are good people who denounce the violence that define ..
the problem is that they do not denounce it. The remain silent and thus empower the radicals.
lewtwo – Don't you see all Muslims denouncing extremism and terrorism here. Go to any mosque and there also you will see the same thing. Please don't be fooled by the hate mongers agenda.
Maybe so- however, if you were a "good person" living in a hardline Islamic country, how outspoken against the violence would you be knowing the fundamentalists would slaughter you and your family without a second thought? Speaking out in these countries is nowhere near so easy as you would seem to imply.
Eloquently said. Christians have an ugly past as well, but seem to have moved beyond that for the most part. I believe that economic development over time will begin to change Islamic countries from within also, but alas...how many generation will pass? And in the interim, how does the West deal with people still living in the 14th Century? Western civilization's values are rooted in Judeo-Christian ideas, combined with the virtues of freedom and democracy held by Romans and Greeks. With no Rome or Greece to look back on, how will their culture move forward out of these dark ages? I guess that is for Muslims to determine.
Are there 'good hearted' evangelicals? I sure hope so. The evangelicals I've known are so obnoxiously preachy and self-righteous I couldn't stand being around them for long.
Here is what koran really teaches in situations like this. those violent demonstrators are ignorant of their religion and islamic teachings:
“when you hear the verses of Allah being held in defiance and ridicule, you are not to sit with them until they talk about something else” 4:140
“when they (believers) hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: “to us our deeds, and to you yours; peace be to you: we seek not the ignorant” 28:55
“the servants of god the most gracious are those who walk on earth in humility and when the ignorant address them, they say “peace”" 25:63
“you shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in yourselves, and you shall hear much that will grieve you from those who received the book before you as well as from those who disbelieved, but if you persevere patiently, and guard against evil – then that will be a determining factor in all affairs” 2:186
“”oh my lord! truly these are a people who will not believe”. so you (muslim) turn away from them, and say “peace”, they soon shall they know” 43:89
“obey not the unbelievers and hypocrites and heed not their annoyances. but put your trust in god” 33:48
you all should check out the following from NY times, interesting angel: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/world/middleeast/muslims-rage-over-film-fueled-by-culture-divide.html?pagewanted=2&hpw
A very interesting thing I note on this blog. All Muslims here are saying that they are against extremism and terrorism. They want to live in peace with people of all religions. There are a number of people who are portraying themselves as Christians are saying hateful things. Just read the blog and one will see who is spreading hate and who is spreading love.
Agreed, The muslims on this forum are reasonable peace loving people. Its the other few hundred millions we are worried about.
Dinesh, you mean the few hundred extremists that you find in any religion. Like the people spreading hate here. We love Gandhi, we do not think BJP is exactly following Gandhi's path. Just like Christ gave a message of love, but many of his followers do not exactly follow that. Mohammed's message was peace and humanity. Unfortunately some of his followers are also extremists.
And the loonies in pakistan who regularly lynch people accused of blasphemy even before they get a trial, or those pakistani lawyers who get into a shouting match trying to keep a young illiterate girl, accused of blasphemy (framed by a mullah as it turns out) in jail and the lawyers falling over themselves to defend they guy who shot the gov. of punjab because he dared say that the blasphemy laws are wrong. And the saudi leaders who will not allow practice of any religion except Islam in public and the muslims who regularly kill their own sibling or daughter because she brought shame on them. and... I could go on for hours. Note that its not just fringe lunatics who are doing this but islamic states themselves. Islam is an intolerant, violent religion, no matter how you try to spin it.
Dinesh if you see the statistics, those loonies are killing more Muslims than people of other religions joined together. Are they Muslims?
Only thing is they call themselves Muslim and use Muslim names. Their agenda is only political. It has nothing to do with Islam. No religion, neither Islam, nor Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Budhism, etc teaches hate or hurting innocent people. Its the people that use the name of religion to spread hate.
Naseer, Just look at what islamic states do people who are not muslim living in them. Instead of defending islam try to reform it. I will call out and criticize anything my religion – hinduism does – caste system. Of course a terrible thing and I will fight for the right for every citizen to be equal no matter what their caste and at least in the eyes of the law they are equal. Do you think hindus and christians have the same rights in pakistan or Saudi as muslims??
Yes, in Pakistani law, people of all religions have the same right. Problem is implementing the law. Unfortunately lack of education provides breeding grounds for terrorist ideology. But this is affecting all people of Pakistan that includes Muslims, Hindus, Christians, etc. Unfortunately when it affects people of other religions, media gives it a lot more coverage. Don't you see who are the majority getting killed in the suicide attacks in Pakistan. how these extremists stop buses and do mass murders, etc.
As for Saudi Arabia, I and a majority of Muslims do not think their laws are in line with the Islamic teaching. Again they use the name of religion to farther their own political agenda.
Some of the most insightful comments I've ever read from someone who has identified as evangelical:
The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies
It is these overzealous pseudo Christian's who are the greatest danger to America. They have already caused us great harm and they are bent on causing more. We should do all we can to quell our own extremists before seeking out the ones abroad.
Islamophobia? What about the burned Christian Church every day on muslim countries and the west said nothing? Cowards! I don't think the Coptics did the film, but had they done, it would be nothing compared with they are sulfuring at muslim hands for long long time. The truth is the muslim crowds need a lesson on how to behave, they can not do whatever they want and forbid everything they which! If they want respect for their archaic and repressive religion, they need to respect the other's people religion as well, thing they NEVER did and NEVER will! Period! So there is a STRONG reason to fear and reject this violent religion, and if there is a valid reason, this can not be called islamophobia. Sorry for the truth. !
you hang out too much in islamphobic sites. there are no churches being burned daily. there are mosques being burned, attacked, denied permit and graffti every day in the christian nations.
i m muslim. product of church school in pakistan. i do not agree with your statement. We care about Christians and others. In last 30 years in Pakistan – a crzy religious group evolved but they are equally dangerous to muslims and non muslims. they have attacked 100 times more mosques than any non muslim prayer place. I do not agree with you. there is great debate going on within islamic societies against the extreme behaviors.
Fair enough, but you don't address the problem that Islam breeds radicalism, and the vast majority of moderate Moslems do littl to curtail it.
Not enough Christain's are doing enough to quell the lies and evil intent of the evangelicals. They embrass creating a world of fear and hate and they the world more dangerous with the venom they inject.
The silent "peaceful moderate" muslim majority are the biggest part of the problem.
I remember reading this in an article, "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”
Brian MacLaren – you are deceived. You still miss the glaring fact that the Quran teaches to slay those who will not convert to Islam (over 200 direct quotes – look them up). You can try to make peace all you want, but the truth is, they will lie to you until they can kill you. In the meantime, why is this so important to you? You can't even follow your own claimed faith the way it is written. Maybe you should spend a little time in the Bible understanding what it really says (instead of the fiction you create and claim it came from the Bible), then maybe you will actually have a clue.
You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I lived in Middle East countries for years, among Muslims who were my friends and were quite aware of my Christian religion. There were many other Westerners living there. There was never a case of a Muslim murdering a Christian, not one. The Muslims were polite and friendly. The only drawback was that we had to be very private about our Christian religion, or else we faced deportation from the country. Kill us? No way. I suspect that you have no personal knowledge of Islam or Muslims. Why would a "Christian minister" spread lies and hatred about people like you are? Not very Christ-like.
watersoureministires...you say that Brian should take more time to read the Bible and learn what is says. What do you want him to learn from it? That we should tolerate hate speech and violence? That we should attack another religion? If you want to know why some people have no faith in religion (any religion) it is because of people like you that use religion to justify hate, violence and discord. For the last 2000 years we have had near constant senselsss slaughter and genocide because of religious differences. Ironically all religions try and find a way to salvation but every religion will only tolerate their way and will hate alternatives to the point of violence.
Why do we let petty things like religions control us? You know what? The true religion is neither Islam or Christian nor any other religions out there (Hindhu etc). The true religion is the religion that are no longer classified as "religion". The word "religion(s)" only serves to divide us further instead of showing where our faith lies. Seriously, if people gonna hate each other because of "religions" then its a lot better if "religion(s)" doesn't exist.
Isn't the point of all these riots, burning and kiIIing to make people fear them so the world self-censors itself?
Seems to me that they want Islamophobia.
Otherwise, they'd stop acting like a bunch of over-emotional children with guns.
Liberalism caused this to happen.
This article and many of these comments are pathetic.
The problem isn't "Islamophobic Evangelicalism", it is two things: the delicate sensibilities of Moslems and rampant liberalism in this country that wants to placate these enraged idiots at the expense of our civil liberties.
I value our freedom of speech, even when it is some lame anti-Islam (or anti-Christian!) movie, comic, picture or speech far more than the extreme idiocy of the followers of Islam who think there is some wonderful reasons to kill people.
Sadly there are apologists for all types of evil across the Christian Evangelical world. Those who will tell you they are christians but are anti-christs and will lead many astray. Islam is anathema to Christianity. They do not recognose Jesus as Lord and Saviour nor even as the Son of God, nor do they believe He ressurected. Gods word tells us to test every spirit and if it cannot claim Jesus as Lord it is NOT of God and we should NOT have anything to do with it.Should we hate them? Absolutely not, but should we trust them and tolerate their evil? Absolutely not. These attacks on the embassy and others were not about any movie. Al Quaeda have already admitted that and the fact that there were prior warnings determines that even more. The Quran tells them to either kill us or force us into slavery. There is no in between. They are told to lie to us Taqiyyah and Kitman and lull us into trusting them. Never trust or compromise with evil. The apostles warned us about those who would preach a false doctrine and speak to us with lying tongues attempting to deceive us. Keep your opinions to yourself McLaren, you are a dhimmi.
Python, YOU are an idiot and a prime example of the kind of nonsense that is fueling this debate. There is no god, no Allah, no Jesus.. there was a Muhammed but he was only a man, and we kill each other over NOTHING.. the true antichrist as all those who worship christ...
@python: What you failed to say is that while Muslims don't believe that Jesus was the son of God (they, like Jews, do not believe in the Trinity) they do believe IN GOD, and worship God. They believe that Abraham had 2 sons, Issac and Ishmael. They do believe in Sarah. They do have the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. They DO revere the Psalms, that David wrong, and the Quran references them with respect. They DO believe the story of Jonah and the Whale. They do believe that Moses crossed the Red Sea, by miracle. They do believe, lastly, that they are children of God, that Christians deified Jesus, but that Jesus (pbuh) was a man–a great man–a Prophet, whom God sent, by virgin birth, to the earth, with truth. Now, let us talk about YOUR religion for a moment, and not mine. Your religion teaches you to love even your enemies (Jesus taught this, peace be upon him). (PBUH). So please... if you even believed ONE OUNCE of Christianity, go back to the Bible and tell me what license you have to write what you wrote? In what part of the Bible does it say that you are not to make friends with Muslims–or trust them? Did God write that–or did you just write that because you assume that Muslims are the people God was referring to when in the Old Testament the Bible stated not to "make alliances" with those who are evil. Wasn't the person who put Jesus to death (according to your religion) EVIL? And what did Jesus do, according to your religion? And didn't Paul persecute Christians at one time? And was he not EVIL when he was doing that? Yet, God reached out to him. I don't think Muslims are evil. I am Muslim. I know they aren't evil. Could I encourage you to go to a Mosque–not with the purpose of converting you (like you do to me) but to show you that the people there are God-fearing? ANd do you not realize that people who burned the embassy burned MY embassy? I was BORN HERE! I was in tears. They attacked MY ambassador to Libya! For heaven's sake, get a grip and stop listening to Pat! He's not wrong on everything, but he's misleading a host of people. While Islam is not the same as CHristianity, there is a lot more in common than any of you would imagine.
Thank you Krista, that was very well said.
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